Wednesday June 01, 2016
BIRMINGHAM got the better of title rivals Eastbourne with a 47-43 win from an eventful Travel Plus National League contest at Perry Barr on Wednesday.

The Surestop Brummies had problems before and during the meeting – first when planned guest Danny Ayres was ruled out due to illness on the day, causing a late team re-shuffle with Coventry’s Ryan Terry-Daley coming in at short notice.

And then Darryl Ritchings and Jack Smith miraculously walked away from an horrific pile-up on the first bend of Heat 14 which ended with Smith’s bike wedged on top of the safety fence.

By that stage, the Brummies had worked hard to gain the advantage over an Eagles team who had plenty of race winners but were found wanting at reserve – where they scored just one point from eleven rides.

A 5-1 from Smith and Jack Parkinson-Blackburn in Heat 2 set the home side on their way, and a 4-2 followed in the next race before the Eagles’ Georgie Wood got into his stride.

Brummies suffered misfortune in Heat 7 when Danyon Hume threw a chain as Wood stormed to the front, but tenacious riding from Zach Wajtknecht and Ritchings saw them take points off the Eagles’ heat-leaders in Heats 10 and 11.

The latter was especially crucial as the race was awarded after two laps when Charley Powell fell under Smith’s challenge, with the Brummies going six points up.

That became eight in the next as Powell came to grief again when Jack Parkinson-Blackburn sailed past, and Smith took the notable scalp of Jake Knight in a blanket finish for third place in Heat 13.

The first-bend smash in Heat 14 could have had far worse consequences but Ritchings was able to race on, with Smith replaced by Parkinson-Blackburn as a precaution, and a share of the spoils in the re-run secured the Brummies’ win.

Eastbourne then salvaged a league point from the meeting with a last-heat 5-1 from Knight and impressive guest Matt Williamson, although Ritchings had already done enough to secure the Ductair Electrics Rider of the Night award.

Brummies boss Graham Drury said: “It was a hard-fought match exactly as I was anticipating, and it was a big body-blow to the team when Danny Ayres phoned up unwell.

“But again, every single one of the riders chipped in at valuable times. They showed their mettle and went out and won races, or more importantly on several occasions they didn’t finish last.

“It was a strategy which paid off as the meeting panned out as I thought it would, but also full credit to Eastbourne for getting a point which they were very motivated for in Heat 15, and in all honesty they deserved that.”

Brummies now have a two week break, which will come as a relief to their injured riders and those with knocks, before they face King’s Lynn at Perry Barr on June 15.

BIRMINGHAM 47: Darryl Ritchings 12, Jack Smith 10+2, Zach Wajtknecht 10, Jack P Blackburn 7+3, Danyon Hume 6+2, Ryan Terry-Daley 2+2, Tom Perry R/R.
EASTBOURNE 43: Matt Williamson 13+1, Jake Knight 12, Georgie Wood 10, Ellis Perks 7+1, Luke Harris 1, Charley Powell 0, Gary Cottham R/R.

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